We are pleased that as a direct result of our questioning in the last session of Parliament the Government has agreed with our position, namely, that we should ensure that the Prison Service makes use of the statutory powers it has in order to make mandatory drugs testing of inmates a reality. It will be recalled that it was the former GSD Government that made provision for mandatory drugs testing in Prisons but some 5 years later the Government has been very slow to expedite this critical work within our Prisons.
Last year Elliott Phillips MP asked the former Justice Minister Gilbert Lucudi QC MP questions on the mandatory testing of prisoners. We were told three things by the former Justice Minister (1) that the technology for such tests was not calibrated (2) that the Superintendent preferred voluntary arrangements with Prisoners in exchange for privileges (3) that the Superintendent of Prisons had not issued the requisite statutory notice despite the legal framework being put in place by a GSD Government over 5 years ago.
In the recent parliamentary session the newly appointed Justice Minister agreed with the Opposition and accepted our invitation to speak with the Superintendent in order to ensure that mandatory drugs testing of inmates was to be actively pursued.
Elliott Phillips, Shadow Justice Minister, said “we believe it is right that the authorities use the powers at their disposal to get inmates away from drugs and their abuse and moving them towards making a positive contribution to our community. Substance abuse must be tackled at ever level in our community and if we have the statutory muscle to tackle drugs there is no reason why we should not do so. We continue to express disappointment not to have received a explanation for the 5 year delay of the Government to ensure that mandatory drugs testing becomes a practical reality but we welcome Minister Costa’s stance and his commitment to working with us on this important issue”.